Two Poems

Poetry / Lindsay Lusby

:: What’s the story, Mother? ::

Take comfort in this: 
you are not dear to me. 

O Night of Desirable Objects,
you are the honeytrap 
			                 I cast deep 

into this bracken of asters 
and catchflies. 
		          You will watch 

the dark undress, 
peel back its beard of sepals. 

          Do not call out for me:

Let this pale hand cover your mouth.
Let it smother you with my love. 


:: You still don’t understand
what you’re dealing with, do you?::

	Natural selection cannot fashion perfect organisms.
	—“The Evolutions of Populations,” Campbell Biology textbook

Inside its mouth, 
		                 another mouth:

                    a fearful symmetry that rips 
through every soft-bellied thing 

          like worms through wet earth. 

On top of bone, 
                             more moonbright bone. 

                    Holds the nightbloom of your face 
in thrall and you will tremble at the feet 

          of all its terrible glory. 

Behold, child:    
                            this is Leviathan. 


From the writer

:: Account ::

The titles of each of these poems are lines of dia­logue bor­rowed from Rid­ley Scott’s Alien, which hap­pens to be one of my favorite hor­ror movies. Since zero-grav­i­ty and oxy­gen tanks aren’t real­ly my poet­ic aes­thet­ic, I want­ed to bring Alien back down to earth. I approached the sto­ry through the lan­guage of fairy tale and Catholi­cism, the alien-ness through the imagery of plants and wild­flow­ers. I want­ed to cre­ate an earth­ly strange­ness with them, one that hor­ri­fies through its grotesque famil­iar­i­ty. The titles came first, of course, and then I let the poems grow from there.

When I began, I assumed the char­ac­ter of Rip­ley would be my main focus, oth­er than the xenomorph itself. But strange­ly, the char­ac­ter of Moth­er emerged as the voice of these poems. This, I think, was the one thing that tru­ly sur­prised me in the writ­ing of them. The ship com­put­er, called MU-TH-UR, begins as such a benign and neu­tral influ­ence in the back­ground of the film; but by the end she becomes a true antag­o­nist, telling the ship’s crew (her chil­dren, you could say) that they are expend­able in the ser­vice of a greater mis­sion: bring­ing the xenomorph back to earth for pro­pri­etary study. She becomes the cal­lous, neglect­ful, mur­der­ous fairy-tale moth­er we know from Broth­ers Grimm sto­ries like “Hansel & Gre­tel” and “The Juniper Tree.” Bits of each of those sto­ries end­ed up in the poems as well. The places where sto­ries over­lap with each oth­er just light up for me and those are the places where I build my poems.


Lind­say Lus­by is the author of two chap­books, Black­bird White­tail Red­hand (Pork­bel­ly Press, forth­com­ing 2017) and Ima­go (danc­ing girl press, 2014), and the win­ner of the 2015 Fairy Tale Review Award in Poet­ry, judged by Joyelle McSweeney. Her poems have appeared most recent­ly in Faerie Mag­a­zine, North Dako­ta Quar­ter­ly, Tin­der­box Poet­ry Jour­nal, and Fairy Tale Review.